Anyone who has worked with me knows that I believe structure—in the interview snippet below, referred to metaphorically and literally as architecture—is foundational to any piece of writing.
It’s structure that provides a map and guide, a method for understanding and interpreting the story you want to tell. It is what allows you to change major scenes, set pieces, and even the flow and structure of a piece of writing because it helps you understand where you are.
And there is no better discussion and guide on structure than the chapter found in Storycraft by Jack Hart.
Below is an excerpt from an interview of Sarah Broom by Brad Listi on LitHub that offers some good, practical advice:
Listi: Maybe a good place to start is to talk about the ways in which you conceived your book architecturally. You’re writing about a house, as a framing device, and you thought explicitly about architecture and architectural motif and the way a house is built. How did that come to you in the writing process? Did that come retrospectively, or right from the start?
Broom: That’s a great question. One of the first things I did was to get these index cards and write each room of the house, because the house I grew up in was a camelback shotgun. They call it a railroad apartment in New York. I remember writing on each of these notecards each room of the house—living room, mom’s and dad’s room, kitchen, small bathroom—and then laying the cards out on the floor and just looking at them for a really long time and thinking, What are the clues here for how I can organize this book?
I was thinking about the book as a sort of house, that needs a specific architecture. When you go to someone’s house, you don’t just bust in and end up in someone’s bedroom, right? There is a pathway you follow. How do you set up thresholds in a book? How does the reader feel when they’re moving through it? What’s the familial space and the public space? It came to me at the very beginning that I need to be contextualizing it in that way.